Important! You should not wash large and/or very dirty wounds, bite wounds or burns yourself. Simply place a protective bandage that stops the bleeding over the wound, and go to the nearest health centre/hospital for treatment.
Wash and clean the wound first and then press the edges together. Keep the injured site elevated and press on it using a clean compress or cotton wool pad until the bleeding stops. Try to pull the edges of the wound together by attaching a plaster on one side of the wound and stretching it over the wound. You can sometimes use a small amount of surgical tape to pull the edges of the wound together. Leave the plaster/tape on for a few days to give the gap in the wound time to heal.
If it is a deep wound, particularly on your hands, you should always seek medical attention. A deep cut must be stitched within 6 hours. If you have cut your hand or a finger close to a joint or tendon, it is important to see whether you can move all the joints in your fingers. If it is extremely painful, or if you cannot move your joints, you must seek medical attention immediately.
If a plaster is not big enough, you can put one or more compresses over the wound instead. Attach the compress using surgical tape or fabric tape. If necessary use a gauze bandage over the dressing for further support.
Large bleeding wounds
If the bleeding is spraying or pulsating, this is a sign that it is an injury to a major artery. Get the injured person to lie down. Elevate the injured part of the body and keep it in a raised position. Stop the bleeding using a tourniquet over the wound – a first aid dressing – or a length of cotton rolled rightly into a dressing. Wrap an elasticated gauze bandage around the tourniquet, but not too tightly. If the bleeding continues, press down on the dressing with your hand. It is important to stop the bleeding and quickly head to a health centre or hospital. Call 112 for help.
Moist wounds heal faster
We now know that wounds can heal far faster in a moist rather than a dry and airy environment. New cells form more quickly in moist environments and the risk of scar formation and infection is reduced. A special plaster made of an extremely thin and pliable material is now available that seals in the wound and acts as a second skin in place of a scab. You can even take a shower or bath wearing this type of plaster as it is 100% waterproof. However you need to take extra care when cleaning the wound and never put the plaster on a wound that is already infected.
What happens when the wound heals?
The human body tries to repair cuts and sores in a number of ingenious ways. Bleeding is stopped by the release of fibrinogen from blood cells that is converted into fibrin that forms a “mesh” over the wound site. This mesh traps blood platelets and red blood cells that coagulate into a natural plug – a scab. White blood cells race to the wound site to take care of the bacteria. At this point, the skin around the wound site can become slightly red – an inflammation has developed, the way the human body normally heals a wound.
If there are only minor signs of infection around a minor wound, this can be treated with wound cleanser. If there is too much bacteria present or if the bacteria are particularly vigorous, the skin can become an angry red colour, swollen and tender. The wound starts to weep and sometimes a pustule can form. Red marks around the local lymph glands, swollen and tender lymph glands and/or fever are serious signs that the infection has spread. You should contact your nearest health centre/hospital for medical attention.